Tag Archives: World Equestrian Games

Vaulting Championships Come to an Epic Conclusion

Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven of Team Germany. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

In a breathtaking finale to Vaulting at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA, Team Germany, their individual female star Kristina Boe, and Lambert Leclezio from France all took gold under supreme pressure in the Christie’s International Real Estate arena.

Boe, a formidable competitor and ambassador for the sport, now holds the European, World Cup, and World Championship titles.

Her innate story-telling and characterisation have been stand-out characteristics throughout her years of success in the sport.  Her astonishing achievements have been aided by her incredible relationship with lunger Winnie Schlüter and the impressive horse Don de la Mar. Posting an unbeatable combined score of 8.388, she managed to halt the challenge launched by compatriot Janika Derks.

“As a result of the new Nations Team Championships, it is the first time that it is possible to win two medals for an individual.  To come away from Tryon with two gold medals makes me speechless and more than grateful,” Boe said.

“Last night, Winnie and I sat together and said all that we hope for this last freestyle is to do one round in utter harmony, where I can enjoy my performance. I love my music, my whole programme and I didn’t even care what would come in the end. I just wanted to have that one goose-bump round.” — Kristina Boe (GER)

Derks, who took the bronze medal alongside Johannes Kay two days ago in the Pas de Deux competition, came out all guns blazing.  With Carousso Hit and renowned lunger Jessica Lichtenberg, her final freestyle highlighted her impressive strength yet was beautifully contrasted with classical music. Finishing on 8.374, she kept the pressure on Boe right to the end. Bronze went Austria’s Lisa Wild for the second time this week.

The highest freestyle score of the day went to Germany’s Sarah Kay who posted 8.880 in the final test (8.308).  However, her assault on the medals came too late in the competition as she finished on a combined total of 8.308 to line up fourth.

Lambert Leclezio from France dominated the individual male category as his execution, artistic impression, and utter control meant he was in a league of his own. “It is the accumulation of hard work over the past four years. Every day waking up with the end goal of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in mind. It is a real honour to win here for France,” he said. He got a standing ovation from the Tryon spectators as he once again changed the face of the sport.  It was his partnership with Poivre Vert and Francois Athimon that allowed him to perform with such confidence to finish on 8.744.

This lunger and horse partnered Jacques Ferarri to the gold medal four years ago in Normandy (FRA), so it was a very special moment when they did it all over again, but with a new vaulter this time around. Poivre Vert, who has done so much for the sport, will now retire.

“This was his last competition and I had the honour to finish his career. He is an amazing horse and by far the best I have competed with. I spent one year with him; it was short but really intense,” Leclezio said.

“I have had him for ten years and he is an absolute warrior! He is mentally very strong and the most incredible horse – unbelievably reliable.” — Francois Athimon (FRA)

The standard throughout the class was exceptionally high, but it was Germany that continued their impressive form to secure both second and third places on the podium. A second silver at these Games went to Jannik Heiland on Dark Beluga lunged by Barbara Rosiny, who were consistent, fluid and harmonious to finish on 8.606. Fellow-countryman Thomas Brüsewitz claimed bronze supported by Danny Boy who was lunged by 2010 Individual Male gold medallist Patric Looser (8.533), and who managed to overtake yet another of the powerful German contingent, Jannis Drewell (8.509).

The squad championship was a perfect conclusion to an amazing week. With only 0.001 separating overnight leaders Team Germany and Team Switzerland it was always destined to be a nail-biting final and it was the Germans who really rose to the occasion, leaving no doubt that they would walk away double gold medallists from these Games.

With competitors taking to the arena in reverse order of merit, it was the Swiss who were the first of the two big-hitters to stake their claim to the title. But with gold on the line they had some nervous moments and had to settle for silver together with their horse Rayo de la Luz and lunger Monika Winkler-Bischofberger (8.433). However, their head-to-head battle with Team Germany will go down as one of the greatest of all time.

Last to go, the German squad produced a stunning performance of their captivating ‘Now You See Me’ freestyle. With their horse Danny Boy and Patric Looser on the lunge they looked at ease despite the immense pressure and their freestyle, laced with big lifts and eye-catching dismounts, delighted both the audience and judges alike.  By the end of their routine gold was guaranteed (8.638).

It was Team Austria who rounded off the podium, taking bronze alongside Alessio L’Amabile and Maria Lehrmann on the lunge (8.198), with USA in fourth (8.000) and Italy in fifth (7.986).

Results here.

By Hannah Eccles

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Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
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Stunning Day of Freestyle Rounds Off Para Dressage Championships

Italy’s Sarah Morganti. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

On the day of the “dancing horses,” The Netherlands’ Sanne Voets became the first ever non-British rider to win three gold medals in one major international championship before team-mate van der Horst put the icing on the Dutch cake by doing exactly the same. And topping off an incredible five days of competition there was a history-making moment when Japan secured its first ever Para Dressage medal at the Adequan© World Para Dressage Championships at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA.

Competing in the Grade V competition, and less than two years out from the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Japan’s Tomoko Nakamura and Djazz F scored 73.540 to take a surprise bronze. Nakamura said, “I was so nervous and it went so quickly and I feel so honoured to be in such a big competition.”

An imperious score of 80.150% was more than enough for Great Britain’s Sophie Wells to pick up her second gold of these Games in the grade’s Freestyle. Riding C Fatal Attraction, she finished ahead of The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar and Alphaville N.O.P. who scored 79.155% to take his second silver.

Speaking after the test, Wells said her horse was “a little bit tense today and on edge but he’s come out this week and given me everything. When you miss out on an Individual Gold [WEG 2014] after training every day it’s hard, but to achieve this after a big gap like I’ve had is amazing. That’s why Rio 2016 was so special because I missed out on the gold in London 2012 too!”

The day started with victory for Sanne Voets, and that first ever non-British triple in the Grade IV competition. Riding her beloved Demantur N.O.P. she scored 79.645% to finish ahead of Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla on Don Henrico who posted 77.780%.

“This horse two years ago won the first ever Paralympic gold medal for the Netherlands, and he contributed very much to our first ever team gold medal on Friday, and now he is the first one taking home triple gold for the Netherlands in the World Games. I couldn’t be happier!” — Sanne Voets (NED)

There was double joy for Team USA too, as Kate Shoemaker claimed the bronze on Solitaer with 73.230%. It was the host nation’s second medal of the Games and comes hot on the heels of their amazing fifth place in the team competition.

A stunning display of control and grace by Italy’s Sara Morganti took the freestyle gold in the Grade I competition – her second of the Games. Riding Royal Delight, her horse for the past eight years, Morganti scored 78.867 ahead of Rihards Snikus of Latvia. Snikus, a keen DJ in his spare time, rode King of the Dance to score 76.113% and pick up his first ever global medal, having broken onto international scene at the FEI European Championships in Gothenburg in 2017, where he picked up a silver and a bronze.

“It’s incredible and so big an emotion I can’t even describe it,” Morganti said after waiting for confirmation of her win. “We won three out of three [the pair had the highest score in their grade’s team test as well] and I was hoping for a medal, but I didn’t dare hope for two gold medals. It’s a dream come true and so very fantastic!”

The two wins here at WEG will help Morganti put the disappointment of Rio 2016, when her horse didn’t pass the compulsory veterinary check, behind her. “I needed to come out here with my horse and show how good she is,” she said, “and we worked so hard at home to do our best and she’s improved. The beautiful thing is she continues performing at the top of the ranking and competitions. This is even more than a gold!”

And double US joy turned to triple when Roxanne Trunnel, riding Dolton scored 75.587 to pick up her nation’s third Para Dressage medal by taking the bronze.

There was a huge squeal of delight from Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup when she saw her score in the Grade II contest. Riding Horsebo Smarties she posted 78.947%% to take the gold ahead of Austria’s Pepo Puch on Sailor’s Blue with 75.500. The Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk took bronze on Wallace N.O.P. with 74.573 – a replay of the grade’s individual and freestyle contests.

“I don’t think there are any words for how amazing I feel. It’s been out of this world and incredible and much more than we ever hoped for. I’m really proud and really happy. I don’t know what else to say. All the years of hard work make this all meaningful.” — Stinna Tange Kaastrup (Team Country)

The Grade III freestyle rounded off the day and The Netherlands’ Rixt van der Horst joined team-mate Voets as a triple gold winner, scoring 77.437% on Findsley. Continuing the USA’s incredible run, Rebecca Hart added silver to her bronze from the individual on El Corona Texel with an impressive 73.240%. Germany’s Angelika Trabert continued her return to the sport by taking the bronze on Diamond’s Shine, with a score of 71.840%.

“It has been such an amazing year for the Netherlands. I have no words for it, both in terms of me and what the team did!” van der Horst said.

But there was high drama when Great Britain’s Paralympic Champion Natasha Baker was thrown from her horse, Mount St John Diva Dannebrog, during her test, eliminating her from the competition. “My ego was bruised and so was my backside,” she joked afterwards, “but at least I landed on the centre line!”

So at the end of a brilliant week of competition, The Netherlands sits comfortably atop the overall medal table, with five golds, two silvers and two bronzes, followed by Great Britain with two golds, and one silver. Denmark is third with two golds and a bronze, while Riskalla’s two silvers give Brazil the fourth spot. The USA sits fifth with one silver and three bronzes.

Results here.

By Rob Howell

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Brakes Off but Pressure Was On for Untouchable Aussie Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell with his carriage of horses Celviro, Checkmate, Daphne, and Zindgraaf. (FEI / Christophe Taniere)

Not even broken brakes could prevent Boyd Exell (AUS) from tightening his grip towards a third successive individual gold medal as the Polaris Ranger driving marathon test delighted the packed crowds at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG).

The Netherlands’ notorious marathon specialist Koos De Ronde won the day with his score of 117.28 points, helping him jump 10 places in the overall individual standings to sit fourth with just the cones test to come. But nothing could stop the relentless Exell from once again grabbing the headlines.

The Australian noticed early on that his braking system was compromised and yet still the 2010 and 2014 WEG Individual champion managed to get round the Richard Nicol-designed course in a score of 121.93, the third best of the day. That was enough to extend his overall lead to 7.00 points over second-placed Chester Weber.

“It caused a problem in hazard one; we came in hot because there is a big long gallop into gate A and we drifted too wide and they (the horses) looked to the left rather than being able to square up the turn – that was a bit disappointing hazard one, gate A, first mistake,” Exell said, with a wry smile.

“Hazards three, four and five are all up and down dips, so the reins were around my head one moment and then on the floor and then round my neck. But we fought. We didn’t give up; we kept fighting all the way.” — Boyd Exell (Australia)

Home favourite Weber kept up the pressure on the all-conquering Australian with a controlled display, backed up by an intricately planned strategy designed to combat the searing heat and humidity.

“We have done a lot of studying of lactate levels and heart rates to try and get the horses ready for this,” Weber explained. “When the temperatures get hotter, the heart rates get higher and lactates grow. We trained them at home (Florida, USA) with gallop sets – you can actually train them to drop their heart rate.”

Hitting his pre-planned targets all the way round, Weber brought home his carriage in 125.51, the fifth best score of the day. The 29-year-old Belgian Edouard Simonet sits just behind him in the overall standings, after adding a confident marathon drive to his solid dressage score.

A protégée of Boyd Exell’s, Simonet is a real threat to the big two with his favoured cones test to come.

“I love the game, so let’s play tomorrow,” Simonet said.

Dutchman De Ronde’s magnificent drive saved what was otherwise a disastrous day for the men in orange. Father and son Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon both made significant, uncharacteristic errors dropping the Dutch, winner of the team competition in 2010 and 2014, down to third in the standings. Team USA leads on 338.55 points, more than 15 points clear of Team Belgium.

“It was terrible. It’s a big disappointment for us both but eventually it will make you stronger and for now we have to keep the team together,” said Bram Chardon. The 25-year-old was 18th quickest on the day with his father just two places better off.

Click here for full results.

By Luke Norman

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Orange the New Gold as Dutch Win Team Competition and Ticket to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Team Netherlands celebrates an incredible win. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhurst)

The Netherlands has turned the established order of international Para Dressage on its head by winning the team competition at the Adequan© Para Dressage at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon (USA). In doing so, the Dutch team not only secured the first team spot, out of three, to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, it also knocked Great Britain off the top of the podium for the very first time at European, world, and Paralympic championship level.

“I feel like I just can’t believe it. It’s been a dream since I started this job six years ago after London 2012 and the gap with Great Britain was so big.” — Joyce Heuitink, Chef d’Equipe (Team Netherlands)

“But every year the gap seemed to be getting closer so we kept working hard and just worked on everything that we can. And then you happen to have four amazing riders that do four amazing tests. But we were so nervous and thought, ‘What if they beat us by just one percent?’”

The Dutch team – Grade II’s Nicole den Dulk, Grade III’s Rixt van der Horst, Grade IV’s Sanne Voets, and Grade V’s Frank Hosmar – clinched the championship with a total score of 223.597% after van der Horst, on Findsley, scored 73.559%, the first score of the day in her grade’s team test.

That initially left the door slightly open for Great Britain to catch up and would have needed scores of 73 plus from both Natasha Baker and Erin Orford to defend their title. Baker rode first and was the highest scorer in the grade, with a personal best 74.118% on Mount St John Diva Dannebrog. Orford, competing at her first global championships on Dior, then scored 69.029%. In the end the gap between the two countries was just 0.622 of a percentage point. Heuitink added: “We watched Erin [Orford, Great Britain’s final rider] and said we would not be noisy.

“We gave her good applause and waited to be sure it was on the scoreboard that we were ahead and then her score came up and it was true. My team manager went straight to the general store to get champagne. I’ve been full of tears for the last two days and I’m afraid I will break into tears when I stand on the podium.”

With the top two spots decided in the first session of the day, the afternoon’s grade I contest turned into a battle royal between Germany and Denmark for bronze, and the final qualifying spot for Tokyo.

Denmark’s Line Munk Madsen was up first, on Hoennerups Beebob, and scored 73.179%, leaving Germany’s individual bronze medal winning Elke Philipp a target of 73.208%. Riding Fuerst Sinclair, Philipp scored 74.375 and Germany was on the way to Tokyo by just 0.150 of a percentage point.

By winning the competition, Hosmar and den Dulk picked up their first ever world gold medals. Speaking after the ceremony, Hosmar said: “It’s really nice. We worked hard for it and finally we beat the British. Every year we were closer and closer and closer and then, today, we beat them. Yeah! We have freestyle tomorrow so we won’t celebrate too much tonight, but tomorrow night I think we will.”

“First gold – that’s amazing,” added den Dulk. “We really rode as a team and there are no words for it yet. Riding here is such a big deal and being here as a team and actually doing it, that’s something else – wanting it and doing it. We’re all ecstatic.

“We rode our hearts out and the judges saw that today and yesterday – happy horses and happy athletes.”

Click here for full results.

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Tears of Triumph as USA Wins Bank of America Team Jumping Title on Home Turf

McLain Ward and Clinta. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

Team USA won the Bank of America Team Jumping Championship at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA, but they were chased all the way to the line by a brilliant Swedish side that took silver, while Germany claimed the bronze. It was an epic battle on this final day of the team event, and nothing came easy.

“It was unbelievable! First off, the odds were miniscule that there would be a jump-off for first place… it wasn’t what we were looking for, but the sport doesn’t get any better than this!” — Robert Ridland (Team USA Chef d’Equipe)

Out in front as the action began, the Swiss lost their grip when Werner Muff’s 13-fault round with Daimler was followed by elimination for Janika Sprunger when Bacardi VDL crashed through the first fence and then refused to tackle the second on the 14-obstacle course. With six Olympic qualifying places also up for grabs all eyes were also on the minor placings, and in the end the Swiss booked their ticket to Tokyo 2020 when finishing fourth ahead of The Netherlands in fifth and the astonishing Australians who pipped the reigning European champions from Ireland for that coveted sixth spot.

It was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, and the Swedes, lying fourth as the action began, piled on the pressure when adding nothing to their previous day’s scoreline of 20.59 when Henrik von Eckermann (Toveks Mary Lou), Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana), and Fredrik Jonsson (Cold Play) posted three brilliant clears. This was enough to overtake the Germans whose total rose to 22.09 despite foot-perfect runs from Simone Blue (DSP Alice) and Marcus Ehning (Pret a Tout), four faults from Laura Klaphake (Catch Me If You Can) having to be taken into account when Maurice Tebbel (Don Diarado) picked up five.

And although American hopes were high, the result was hanging in the balance right to the very end. Devin Ryan opened the host nation account with a single mistake at the second-last fence and when Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline picked up five then the Swedes were out in front. But Laura Kraut rode to the rescue as only she can, steering Zeremonie home with a clean sheet to a great roar from the crowd. If McLain Ward could follow that with another clear the job was done and the gold would be in American hands. But the Olympic double-gold medallist faulted at fence seven and suddenly everything changed once again. The USA and Sweden were tied on 20.59 penalties and it would take a jump-off to separate them.

“McLain made us all work a little harder – he could have made it a whole lot easier!” joked his team manager.

But in the end, it was Ward who won it for them too, with a scorching last-to-go run with the grey mare Clinta. Both teams produced three clear rounds against the clock but Ward’s gallop through the timers saw USA post an accumulated time of 100.67 while the Swedes were two seconds slower.

Youngest team member Adrienne Sternlicht (25) was overcome with emotion at the post-competition press conference, and she wasn’t the only one to shed a tear.

“My best friends and family are here and I’m just thinking – what just happened?! You really don’t want to be woken up from this dream!” — Adrienne Sternlicht (Team USA)

“I love my horse so much. McLain has been the most unbelievable mentor for me, such an important part of my life; for me it’s been a battle of overcoming my own mind and I’m so grateful that Robert trusted me and trusted McLain enough to put me on this team and to be with Laura and Devin and McLain, three riders I’ve honestly looked up to my entire life. I’m so grateful for this opportunity – it’s been a wonderful day!” she said.

Results here.

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Superb Dressage Display Puts Peerless Exell in Control

Boyd Exell with his dream team of horses, Carlos, Celviro, Checkmate, and Zindgraaf. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Australian Boyd Exell produced a driving dressage masterclass at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG) backed by a team of horses he rates as his “best ever” as he took a giant step towards claiming his third successive individual gold medal.

The man who has dominated driving for much of the past decade shook off the lingering effects of breaking his ankle in July, finished with a score of 31.68, putting him 3.42 points clear of the USA’s Chester Weber. For Exell it was his greatest dressage performance to date.

“In Kentucky in 2010 I did a 30 and the crazy thing is that was a beautiful test but we did not have the same power and movement of this team,” said Exell, who has seven FEI World Cup™ driving titles to his name.

“Even when the crowd cheered on the way in, which some horses don’t like, I could just feel my team power up. It was like turning a V8 engine into a V10.” — Boyd Exell (Australia)

Fierce rival Weber, who finished second to Exell at the 2014 WEG in Normandy, entered the arena with the crowd still cheering the two-time champion.

“That was sort of motivating for me, to be honest,” Weber said. “I sort of shook my head like a prize fighter and said to myself ‘c’mon’.”

It worked with a particularly fine rein-back among the highlights as Weber delighted the crowd yet further and finished with 35.10 points.

The Dutch veteran Ijsbrand Chardon, winner of the prestigious Aachen Championships this year, showed all his undoubted class and skill to grab third with a score of 41.06 in what is his weakest discipline. The five-time WEG team champion and 2002 individual gold medallist was the last of the 19 drivers to enter the arena, not that he minded.

“I was fairly relaxed, last driver is the best position. I saw Boyd’s and Chester’s points but then it was very important I made my performance,” Chardon said, before he admitted he might require some help to catch the leader.  “Boyd I need to make a big mistake – 10 points is too much. Six points to Chester is possible.”

A strong performance from Ijsbrand’s 25-year-old son Bram Chardon helped the Netherlands claim second place in the team competition. But the 2010 and 2014 WEG team champions are facing a real battle to hold onto their title.

Led by Weber and boosted by a beautifully controlled performance from dressage specialist Misdee Wrigley-Miller, who scored 42.00 and lies fourth in the individual standings, the USA will take a 10.33 point lead into Saturday’s marathon phase.

“Everyone has been telling me it is just another competition and not to worry about it,” laughed Wrigley-Miller. “But when I came into the arena it was like ‘ooomph’ – the weight of the world fell on my shoulders.”

Click here for full results.

By Luke Norman

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Italian Victory in Vaulting Pair’s Competition

Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha ©Sportfot .

Italian flags flew high when Lorenzo Lupacchini and Silvia Stopazzini jumped on the podium winning gold in the Christie’s International Real Estate’s Vaulting Pas de Deux at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG). Silver went to Austria’s overnight leaders Lindner/Wacha and Bronze was for Germany’s Derks/Kay.

The world’s No.1 pair from Italy set all their heart in the Freestyle, earning 9.027 with high 9s for artistic value as well as the technical execution.

Lupacchini had set his own ambitions as an individual vaulter aside for the sake of the pair’s competition and it was worth it.

“We are really happy because we did what we prepared in training over this year,” he said.

In the end, it was the horse’s scores and a little wobble that put the Austrian title holders from WEG 2014 on Silver. Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha have trained together for eight years and won the first ever Pas de Deux World Championship title in 2012. Understandably they were quite disappointed after they lost first place by 0.014 point, finishing on 9.013.

“We had invested a lot and then a small mistake in the beginning of the Freestyle made all the difference,” said the 31-year-old physiotherapist, Wacha.

Germany’s Janika Derks and Johannes Kay interpreted the emotions of energy to score 8.872.

“We showed the utmost what we can do and are happy with a medal. Competition was very tight and it was a great final.”

Torben Jacobs and partner Theresa-Sophie Bresch (GER), finishing fourth with a Spanish medley, and summed it up. “This must have been the strongest pairs’ competition ever. So many 8’s and 9’s – and to be here at WEG will be in our hearts forever.”

Boe Leads Heading into Women’s Finale in Individual Vaulting Competition

Germany’s Kristina Boe leads the overall Individual Female’s ranking going into Saturday’s final Freestyle on 8.278 in front of Austria’s Lisa Wild (8.229) and her compatriot Janika Derks on 8.228.

Derks is known for her power and strength in Vaulting, but could not quite stand her dismount from Carousso Hit. Despite this mishap her technical was the best of the day.

“The dismount was expensive. Touching the ground is one point off (from the performance score). But the others have to get everything right as well,” said Derks.

World cup winner Boe kept her lead from the previous Compulsory and Freestyle even though strong Janika Derks topped her in the technical movements.

Italy’s defending WEG-silver medalist Anna Cavallaro injured a knee when dismounting, and although she is still ranked fifth overall, it is doubtful that she will participate in the final competition on Saturday.

France’s Leclezio Moves into First Place in Men’s Individual Program

France’s Lambert Leclezio put his best foot forward showing the top technical program of the day with fluid sequences between the prescribed movements, earning 8.443 points, placing him in front of Colombia’s 18-year-old Juan Martin Clavijo (8.166) and Jannis Drewell (GER) on 8.166.

“I just wanted to go out on the good vibes after the Freestyle yesterday, which was not good at all,” said 21-year-old Leclezio who had moved from the island of Mauritius to France for better Vaulting opportunities.

At his second WEG, the top technical score pushed Leclezio in the overall lead before the final Freestyle for the medals on Saturday.

Germany’s Jannik Heiland and Jannis Drewell are in second and third. The third German Thomas Brüsewitz, fourth at WEG 2014 and vaulting as the Prince of Bel Air in the technical, lost his lead and now ranks fourth.

“It is not all lost yet,” said Brüsewitz.

Team Germany Leads the Squads Ranking

Team Germany leads the Squad standings on 8.405 after two rounds before going into the final Freestyle for the medals to be hosted on Saturday. The defending title holder’s advantage from Team Norka is the thinnest possible, as they are only 0.001 points ahead of Team Luetisburg for Switzerland. The silver medalists from WEG 2014 are on 8.404.

Austria (7.977) has more to catch up on if they want to improve their medal with Italy breathing down their necks (7.846), and it will be a hotly contested lunging circle at TIEC’s Indoor Arena on Saturday, starting at 12:00 p.m. EST.

Race for Team Medals Underway in Adequan® Para-Dressage

Great Britain’s Sophie Wells led from the front as the race for team medals took center-stage in Adequan® Para-Dressage on Thursday.

Britain’s Para-Dressage team boasts one of the longest unbeaten records in sport, having won every Team Gold medal available at World, Paralympic and European levels.

Wells ensured a strong start for them at Tryon Stadium after posting a score of 77.233% to top Grade V by an emphatic margin from the Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar, riding Alphaville N.O.P.

Wells’ teammate Sir Lee Pearson, meanwhile, put behind his retirement in the Grade II Individual championship with Styletta on Tuesday to finish third in his section and ensure Britain were well-placed overnight, with two more riders – Natasha Baker and Erin Orford – set to complete their tests on Friday.

France currently leads the way, but all four team riders have performed their tests, with the in-form Netherlands second and Japan third. Strongly-fancied trio Britain, Denmark, and Brazil all have half their team line-ups still to ride, while the Netherlands are also strong Gold medal contenders.

“I knew I needed to up my game from the other day for the team,” Wells said. “I had a look at my test with my coaches and looked at different areas. You learn to deal with the pressure and I just focused on what I needed to do. All the other nations are getting so much stronger and the horsepower is incredible in the sport. We want to retain our title, but we can only do the best that we can do.”

For Pearson, who needs one medal in Tryon to become the most decorated Para-Dressage rider in FEI World Equestrian Games™ history, it was a case of him showcasing all his ability and experience to score 71.606% in a section that saw Individual Gold medallist Stinna Tange Kaastrup again come out on top.

“I was not worried about the placing today,” Pearson said. “I rode calmly and passionately in there, and said thank you to her (Styletta) on every transition. She has been brilliant here, with the environment, with the arenas. I thought she would be petrified, but she hasn’t been, and I do believe that she will be a fantastic championship horse for the future.”

Kaastrup, meanwhile, continued her impressive championship on Horsebo Smarties, recording a winning margin of almost two per cent from the Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk, who finished second on Wallace N.O.P.

“Everything that we talked about that I was supposed to do in there, we did, and I am super proud about that,” Kaastrup said. “The horse is amazing and I learn a lot from him. I am feeling really good, especially with the score I delivered.”

Grade IV riders closed the opening day of team competition – medals will be awarded following Grade III and Grade I on Friday – and it was Individual Gold medalist Sanne Voets who again delivered the goods with Demantur N.O.P.

Their score of 76.550% beat Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla and Don Henrico into second, with Belgium’s Manon Claeys taking third.

“He was amazing. He was so sharp, willing and obedient, and I think this is what makes it so beautiful when two becomes one – when a horse and you are in perfect harmony,” Voets said.

“The pressure is on the British now, and we like that. We came here with one aim, and that was to win a team medal to qualify directly for Tokyo.”

For more information on the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and to view start lists and results, please visit www.Tryon2018.com.

Swiss Stay on Top, but USA Stalking Closely Going into Jumping Team Medal-Decider

McLain Ward and Clinta. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

The Swiss held on to the lead in the Bank of America Team Jumping Championship at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA but the hosts have moved up from overnight fourth into second spot ahead of the medal-decider in which the top 10 nations will compete.

And they are dangerously close, stalking the leaders by less than a single penalty point and leaving them with absolutely no room for error. Germany is in third ahead of Sweden, The Netherlands, and Ireland, while France, Australia, Great Britain, and Canada have also made the cut.

And the individual placings got a big shake-up, with overnight leader, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, dropping to eighth following a single mistake, while Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca rocketed all the way up from ninth to pole position when producing one of just five clears over another masterful track designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade. America’s McLain Ward is now in second, with individual European champion Peder Fredricson from Sweden in third, Germany’s Simone Blum in fourth, and Ireland’s Cian O’Connor in fifth place.

The Swiss looked vulnerable when pathfinder Werner Muff (Daimler) left three fences on the floor, but Janika Sprunger pulled it back when collecting just a single time penalty with Bacardi VDL. Martin Fuchs and Clooney hit the second element of the penultimate double which proved one of the trickiest places on the 14-fence track, and when Guerdat’s mare, Bianca, lowered the oxer at fence nine then Andy Kistler’s side added nine to their first-day tally but still maintained the advantage, albeit a very narrow one.

Devin Ryan kicked off the US effort with a pole down from Eddie Blue, but both Adrienne Sternlicht (Cristalline) and anchorman McLain Ward (Clinta) picked up just a single time fault so Laura Kraut’s double-error with Zeremonie could be discarded.

“I woke up this morning and had some kind of epiphany that I needed to relax, and I think that translated into my ride! It’s a really difficult course… there’s fences falling everywhere and they are massive, so I really thought about taking each fence at a time and I think that’s where my time fault came. I was more focused on jumping a clear round because that’s what our team needed.” — Adrienne Sternlicht (USA)

Germany’s Blum and DSP Alice produced the first clear of the day to set her side on the road to a rapid recovery from eighth place after the opening competition. and when team-mate Laura Klaphake followed that with a lovely clear over the poles and just one time fault things were looking very good indeed. But Klaphake wasn’t getting over-confident with two of her team-mates still to go.

“We’ve had two good rounds but sport is so hard, from one second to the other it can change, like yesterday until the fault (where her horse stopped) I had an amazing round, so we cross our fingers!” she said wisely. Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado returned a nine-fault scoreline and then Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout added eight more, but their final tally left them on 18.09, so less than two fences behind the Swiss at the head of affairs.

Meanwhile, the Italians crashed out, when, already reduced to a three-man side, Luca Marziani’s stallion Tokyo du Soleil decided he wouldn’t jump the wall at fence three and the pair was eliminated. However, de Luca, who competes in the uniform of the Italian air force, was determined to soldier on even though he’s only been riding the 10-year-old grey mare, Irenice Horta, since June of this year.

The man who competes for Stephan Conter’s Stephex Stables in Belgium said:

“Zoe Conter rode her before, but unluckily Zoe had an accident in Rome, she fell off, so they decided to give me the horse and this is our fifth show together! The Nations Cup in Aachen was our first big class and then we did the Nations Cup and Grand Prix in Dublin where she finished third. That was really tough but it was the same course designer, so I had a feeling I could do it here!” — Lorenzo de Luca (ITA)

The top 65 athletes go into the final competition including individuals and the 10 qualified teams who will all compete in reverse order of merit. And the Australians are still in there, lying eighth and flying their flag with honour and pride. Their performances have been exemplary, but they have sprung a really big surprise, apparently outsiders but really rising to this world championship challenge. As Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa commented, “They’re doing great – and that’s the beauty of our sport!”

Results here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

A Golden Day for the Dutch as Rixt van der Horst Enjoys Para-Dressage Glory in Tryon

Rixt van der Horst and Findsley ©Sportfot.

Netherlands star Rixt van der Horst reflected on the “amazing” feeling of winning another Gold medal after she headlined day two of Adequan® Para-Dressage at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018.

Van der Horst, who took double Gold at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in France, sealed top spot in the Grade III Individual Championship on her bay mare Findsley.

Their score of 73.735% edged long-time leader Natasha Baker, of Great Britain, into second place as she excelled with new top horse Mount St John Diva Dannebrog, while American Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel collected Bronze to become her country’s first world Para-Dressage medalist.

“I am really thrilled,” Van der Horst said. “It is so amazing to be world champion again. During my test, I didn’t realize it was that good.

“I was just riding my test and doing what I do and it was not until afterwards that I realized it was good. In the beginning I was nervous, but I relaxed during the test and it got better and better. It’s our first international competition together and I am so proud of her.”

Baker, a mainstay of Britain’s all-conquering Para-Dressage teams in recent years, was similarly delighted with the performance of her horse in what was a major championship debut for the partnership, as it had been for Van der Horst and Findsley.

“She was amazing, so, so, good and she went in there like she owned it,” Baker said. “I am just so proud of everything that we have achieved in such a short space of time.

“It is an honor to get called up for the team, especially after such a short space of time. I’ve only had her since January, and to have done everything we have and for the selectors to have the trust in us to come and do our best is fantastic.”

Italy’s Sara Morganti came out on top in the Grade I Individual Championship, winning an anticipated head-to-head battle with Singapore’s current world number one Laurentia Tan.

The pair was drawn as the last to two to ride in Tryon Stadium, and did not disappoint, with Morganti’s score of 74.750% on Royal Delight enough for victory as Tan and Fuerst Sherlock finished on 73.750%. Germany’s Elke Philipp claimed the bronze medal aboard Fuerst Sinclair with 73.143%.

“It was wonderful,” said Morganti, who won world Individual Gold and Silver medals in 2014.

“It’s incredible. I’ve had a very difficult year because of health problems and for a moment I thought I couldn’t go on.

“My horse was amazing and I have to thank my trainers who have been with me all along the way. I am happy because I wanted to get a medal for me, but also for them.”

Tan, meanwhile, added, “It’s really important to get a medal for my country. I felt relaxed and I just had to keep going.”

Philipp could scarcely believe the scale of her achievement as she completed the medal podium.

“I can’t have any words for this,” she said. “I hoped that I would win a medal, but now I have a medal! The arena is perfect for me and my horse and I think we did a good job.”

Long Standing Partnership Catapults Sheena Bendixen to Christie’s International Real Estate Vaulting Freestyle

Denmark’s Sheena Bendixen won the Individual Female’s Freestyle of the Christie’s International Real Estate’s Vaulting competition at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Wednesday, her score of 8.539 piping Germany’s Janika Derks and Sarah Kay.

Sheena Bendixen and Klintholms Ramstein ©Sportfot

The 25-year-old Bendixen, ranked in the world’s top ten, danced to victory and credited her long-standing partnership with black gelding Klintholms Ramstein and lunger Lasse Kristensen for the success. She won her first European Bronze medal with the same duo seven years ago in 2011.

“One stand was a bit shaky, but I just continued and smiled,” Bendixen said, earning top score for the Trakehner breed horse Ramstein, owned by her groom.

“We call him the psycho mouse. He loves the arena and always says ‘Here, look at me!’ I wanted to dance my emotions at this WEG, relaxation, power, elegance, harmony – everything should be in it,” Bendixen said.

“I had warned her that there is nothing more difficult than really dancing on a horse, not only with expressive hands, but also with your feet and she did it,” Kristensen said, a former world class Vaulter himself.

Janika Derks scored 9.473 for her technique, the best of the morning. For her Freestyle she used the music “La Terre en Ciel” that had already brought a Bronze medal on ice, dancing for Germany.

“I wanted it to look easy, soft and fluffy, quite a contrast to my usual vaulting. I am a very technical and strong vaulter and to show elegance and harmony is the hardest for me,” Derks said.

“It is always the same, the easier something looks the harder it is,” Derks’ lunger Jessica Lichtenberg said.

Several female competitors managed to dance a complete story. U.S. athlete Tessa Dirks danced to the music of the movie “Little Red Riding Hood.”

“I am kind of an upbeat person and I had to pretend to be afraid which is not quite like me. The panic of the wolf is more like the panic of the vaulter of not finishing on time.”

That fear was unnecessary because she finished on rank 7, with lunger Christoph Lensing, a double WEG Silver medalist himself.

Germany’s Thomas Brüsewitz Turns In His Second Vaulting Win at Tryon 2018

Germany’s Thomas Brüsewitz won the Individual Freestyle at Christie’s International Real Estate’s Vaulting discipline at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Wednesday, duplicating his success from Tuesday’s compulsory. Vaulting for a score of 8.987, he kept France’s Lambert Leclezio and Jannis Drewell for Germany at bay.

It was fireworks in the arena when world No.3, Brüsewitz did his Freestyle following the theme of the movie “The Truman Show.”

“The person in the show is a star because he is true to himself, a real person. Our vaulting is true as well. I thought this a fitting theme for the world championship here.”

Brüsewitz did not go the limit and kept it safe, omitting one handstand.

“When I had my signature movement out of the way, the flic flac backwards, I felt I should play it safe. I will keep it up my sleeve for the final Freestyle,” the student at a sports university in Cologne, Germany said.

FEI World Cup™ winner Jannis Drewell “danced with wolves” for his Freestyle, collecting 8.924 with four scores of 9 from the judges’ panel.

“I had this theme ten years ago for my very first national youth championship and I thought it was a good moment to come up with it again. It was much better than ten years ago.”

French Lambert Leclezio was not happy with his performance, finishing on 8.832.

“Two big movements did not go to plan, but maybe people on the outside did not notice.”

Austria’s Lindner/Wacha Set to Defend Their Pairs Title in Vaulting

The sparkle of 15,000 rhinestones lit the Indoor Arena in the Christie’s International Real Estate’s Vaulting competition at Tryon 2018, when the world’s best pair met for their first round of Freestyle.

Austria’s Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha look set to defend their WEG title from 2014. They scored an average of 9.138, topping their Freestyle performance at WEG 2014.

Wearing a black-and-white costume, they interpreted the theme of the literature piece Chess Novel. It was the first time the freestyle was shown in public. It has been a work in progress since they started planning it two years ago.

“It was a wonderful feeling to go out and to know it will stun everybody. When you then get it all together at the right time the feeling is just hard to describe,” said Lukaas Wacha.

Their costumes had been handcrafted by both of their grandmothers, who are tailors in Vienna and Salzburg. It had been Jasmin Linder’s job then to attach the close to 15,000 rhinestones.

“Luckily Svarovski sits in Tyrolia where those two come from,” said team chief Manfred Reber.

The world’s highest ranked pair Italy’s Lorenzo Lupacchini and Silvia Stopazzini set the tone for a great competition. Vaulting as a pair for two years, they came out first into the competition and vaulted for a 9.057, earning six scores of 9s.

Breathing down their necks, only 0.001 point behind, are Germany’s Janika Derks and Johannes Kay. Her neon pink costume stood out against horse Dark Beluga when they showed their stunning lifts and elevations, defying gravity.

For more information on the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and to view start lists and results, please visit www.Tryon2018.com.

Super Swiss Head the Leaderboard Going into Day 2 of Bank of America Jumping Championship

Steve Guerdat and Bianca. (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

A brilliant round from Steve Guerdat (36) and the fiery mare Bianca put the 2012 Olympic champion and Team Switzerland into pole position as the Bank of America Jumping Championship got underway at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA. A colourful, testing but honest 14-fence track built by Irishman Alan Wade created spectacular sport for spectators and the 124 horse-and-rider combinations from 49 nations.

The defending world champions from The Netherlands jumped into second ahead of Brazil in third and USA in fourth. But the biggest story of the day was the stunning performance of the Australians who slotted into fifth and whose final rider, Rowan Willis (38), is lying individually third behind Brazil’s Pedro Veniss (35) in silver medal position and Guerdat at the top of the leaderboard.

France, Sweden, Germany, Colombia, and Ireland fill the remaining top-10 team places in the field of 25 nations.

Guerdat was second-last to go and raced into the lead in the individual rankings when clear in 76.33.

“It was a long day waiting; we walked the course before 9am and it was nine hours later when I got on my horse, but I was kind of confident because the course walked well. The fastest horses were not leading so I thought if I stick to my plan, I had a good chance to be in the top three today, so I actually really enjoyed my round and I can’t ask for much more!” — Steve Guerdat (SUI)

Veniss and his fabulous stallion Quabri de l’Isle were poetry in motion, their tight turn to the third-last fence ensuring they were really competitive against the clock as they cruised through the finish in 76.68 seconds. And Willis and his chestnut mare Blue Movie were only 0.27 seconds slower through the timers.

“She just tries so hard for me. I don’t worry about trying to go fast because she’s naturally fast, so I just have to keep my rhythm and make sure I don’t make a mistake. It was a nice day. All four of us have just got off to a brilliant start and that’s really encouraging.”

“Obviously it’s not easy for our team because half of us are based in Australia so it’s a long way to go to any shows, but those boys (Jamie Kermond and Billy Raymont) have had a good summer in Europe and Scott (Keach) and I have had a good summer over here (in North America) and it’s just brilliant that we all had a good day today. This is something I’ve dreamed of. It’s the first time I’ve represented Australia since I was about 18 at an invitational in Hong Kong!” — Rowan Willis (AUS)

The British-based rider who hails from Armidale in New South Wales made a big impression when finishing 11th in the Grand Prix at the Masters in Spruce Meadows (CAN) earlier this month.

Swiss supremacy was underpinned by great rounds from Martin Fuchs (26), who lies individually fifth behind Germany’s Marcus Ehning, and Janika Sprunger (31) who is in 16th place with Bacardi VDL. “The course suited Clooney really well. I knew I could do it and I’m glad it worked out so well. Werner (Muff) had two down so the pressure is on Steve now, but we all know that he handles pressure better than anyone else!” Fuchs said before Guerdat proved that this is absolutely true.

Sprunger was Swiss pathfinder. “I had to concentrate to open this well for my team and give confidence to myself and the rest of the others, and I know that Bacardi and I are not the fastest combination, so we just try to go as quickly as possible. Maybe a half-second or one second faster was possible but I’m very happy with the end result. I said I wanted to be on 80 seconds and we almost did it!” she said after stopping the clock on 80.26 seconds.

With only a fence separating the top three countries and less than two separating the top 10, it’s all to play for again when the action resumes with Team Belgium first into the ring ahead of Ireland, Japan, Portugal, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Germany, USA, and Mexico. Egypt will be next to go and then Venezuela, Sweden, Netherlands, France, Hungary, Australia, Brazil, and Great Britain will take their turn. Team Colombia has been drawn ahead of the Swiss and they will be followed by Argentina, Spain, and Italy so the last team into the arena will be Israel.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46